Saturday, December 29, 2007

Crazed Cleaning Woman

Christmas was very nice this year. Both kids were thrilled with their gifts. Jason's were mostly Playstation 3 related. He also liked his skateboard - a pretty cool one that I picked out for him - had to pick the board, the trucks, the bearings, the wheels and a bunch of other parts I can't describe to you. A 20-year old skater dude told me what size board to get, but the rest I did myself (although he did put it all together for me!) Jason is a little upset that I won't let him use it unless he has his helmet on, but that's life. ;-)

Sam, being in college, got a laptop as her big gift. I am so proud of her - she barely made it through high school, but earned a 3.75 in her first semester of college. Don't see her much these days as her other friends are home for semester break and she is hanging out with them as well as working.

My job is really stressing me out. I'm probably worrying more than I should about, but I even dream about it at night. Need to take a yoga class or something. Was talking to one of the guys in NJ who is working on a project with me. He was taken out of the office the other day on a stretcher because he had chest pains - turned out not to be cardiac-related, but probably just stress the doctor said. We talked about how we should just try and relax and go with the flow because there is nothing we can really do about it anyway.

So, what can I control? My surroundings - so I am cleaning out everything this week. I'm going to start the New Year with a clean and organized house. So far, today, I've done the computer desk, kitchen junk cabinet, the oven, one bathroom, two closets and a general clean-up of the kitchen. I think I've mentioned before I can be a bit of a packrat. People say my house is clean, but I'm finding things that should have been thrown away a long time ago - medication that is outdated, toddler aged computer games, even set-up CDs for the computer I had years ago.

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Traditions

When my ex-husband and I were together, we at first tried to keep both sides of the family happy for holidays. That meant we would drive 3 hours to his mom's house and have Thanksgiving and/or Christmas there and then drive back home to my mom's house and do it again. Of course, that meant that Santa also made the dual visits which got trickier as the kids got older.

We eventually stopped the dual Christmas visits, but kept up the dual Thanksgivings until we divorced. When we separated and during the first few Christmas' after our divorce, I offered to let my ex sleep on the couch so he would be there Christmas morning. I have full custody so don't have to worry about splitting or alternating holidays if I don't want to. As I look at other people's custody arrangements, I am glad that one, I have full custody, and two, that my ex and I have kept things very positive for the kids. I see so many parents fighting over their kids and making everyone's life miserable.

My ex never did take me up on that offer, but he would generally come over around 6 am and make coffee and anxiously wait for the kids to wake up. Most years, we had to wake the kids up although there was the one year, they woke up at 2 am and refused to go back to sleep until I let them open presents at 4:30 am. When the kids woke up, they opened their stockings and waited for their grandmother to drive over to watch them open their presents.

The year before last, my ex asked for the children on Christmas. He had asked for them the year before, but the kids didn't want to go with him. This year, he asked for them again and they decided to sleep over there and then come to my house in the morning. I was instructed to stay in bed until they got there and woke me up.

Last year, we went to the Pittsburgh Steelers game on Christmas Eve. We went out the day before the game and spent the night in Pittsburgh. We watched the game, had a great time, and then drove home Christmas Eve. That year didn't quite feel like Christmas as we changed our traditions that year.

This year, my ex and I have bought some shared presents and also built on each other's presents. So my son can't open my gifts until he opens his father's. My daughter can't open her gifts from her dad and some of my gifts until she opens the shared gift we bought her. So, this afternoon, I took all the presents and stockings over to my ex's house. After church tonight, I will drop the kids off at my ex's house where they will spend the night. In the morning, they will call me when they wake up and I will drive over there to watch them open their presents. My mom will not be with us this year as she has gone to California to visit my sister and niece for Christmas. Again, Christmas won't feel quite the same. But we are all well and happy so we will have a great time regardless.

Merry Christmas to everyone and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Forecasting

Predicting the future doesn't seem very easy these days. Week before last, the weather forecaster predicted a dusting of snow for our area - we got 3". I was the carpool driver that day. The turnpike was ok, but the main highway I take to get to the turnpike was miserable. Lots of cars were sitting in the grassy median, rather topsy turvy as they slid off the road.

This week, I was also the carpool driver, on a day when they were predicting freezing rain and terrible conditions. I had chosen that day as I had a farewell luncheon to go to. Turns out the woman of honor didn't come in that day as her child was sick. Also turns out that the weather forecaster got it wrong again - just rain, not cold enough to freeze the road, although there was ice on the trees.

Took a vacation day Monday to finish (start) my Christmas shopping. Didn't pick a good day as I see meetings are being scheduled throughout the day to share the results of the latest reorg at work.

Also didn't predict the re-org end results very well. Was surprised to find that my boss, his boss, and the boss above him are all "impacted" by the re-org. By "impacted", I mean they no longer have jobs. The impact to me has also been surprising and perhaps, alarming. I have three new direct reports who I don't know and they are located over an hour from my home office. I lost a direct report and responsibility for that particular area. While I don't mourn that loss, it may impact the global project I was doing that I've become rather attached to - put a lot of time and effort into it, thought I was finally making some headway after some major setbacks and am reluctant to see it turned over to someone who is having difficulty completing two other global projects he is responsible for right now. I really wanted that project to succeed and will be sorry to lose control of it if that means it will not be implemented. Of course, that may just be my personal feelings of not wanting to let go of it.

My new boss is someone I already know and have worked with in the past. That is not the alarming part. The part that really concerns me is that they are breaking things into Demand and Supply. What that means for me is that Demand builds the IT applications or new functionality and hands it over to Supply to support. That may work well if Demand and Supply are tightly integrated, but the way it has been executed in the past is that Demand builds it and then throws it over the wall to Supply to fix it and keep it running. I don't want to be responsible for fixing someone else's issues or for maintaining a system to certain standards if the Build team is not also invested in those standards and levels of quality. As an FDA-regulated environment, they won't be the ones standing in front of the auditor answering the questions about how something was developed and implemented. I'll be the lucky one.

The environment I am inheriting is currently going through four main project releases. The project release was a relatively minor implementation - the Supply side had over 200 change controls submitted to fix the Demand team's incomplete or incorrect implementation in the first 8 weeks of the go-live period. Release 2 also had issues. Release 3 has been pushed back in timeline several months, but Release 4 is still "on schedule." But Release 3 and 4 will be extremely large implementations, definitely prone to difficulty in supporting them. Release 4 is officially designated as being out of design mode and already into build mode. But at the meeting I went to last week, the build team couldn't tell me how they were going to pass my company the data we get today nor could they tell me how they were going to build a data warehouse repository for the data we access today or even if they were going to do so. Yesterday, that build team insisted to our management that we had all the answers we needed to develop our own concurrent implementation team. I had to be the one raising my hand saying we didn't. The high-level PR spin for this Build project is that they are on-time, on-schedule and doing extremely well. The word on the ground is that they are struggling, throwing planned deliverables out of scope, pulling all the Release 4 resources back into Release 3, and that things are not being done correctly.

Before the re-org, in my company, I had both Demand and Supply responsibilities. In the future, I'll only have Supply and I'll have several companies to support in that area. If they execute well and we have a tightly integrated Demand/Supply, it could work. But for the five years that I have been here, we have proven execution is not necessarily where we exceed. We are known for our ability to succeed in a crisis. But crises have a way of burning you out when they become a way of life. I also want to be in a position where success is possible based on your own results and your own hard work.

Guess we'll see how it all shakes out. More news is coming out every day.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bad Blogger

I have been too busy lately to do much fun things on the computer. To add to my overload, I just realized how close Christmas is!

The other hindrance to my blogging more regularly is that my son has found MySpace and he wants to spend all his time checking his MySpace to see what mail he's gotten and who is online. It is all the rage now with his friends. Had to kick him off the computer this evening so I could work on my church website and since I finished that up, I figured I would check out my site and some others.

We did some more downsizing at work today. I think everyone in my group was spared, except for one. I have referenced someone in the past who wasn't doing his job very well causing more work for me. I believe he was downsized today, but I am not 100% sure. One of my good friends had been hoping to get downsized and she got her wish today. She hadn't been happy with how things were going at work, particularly in her area, and she was thinking it might be better to get back into consulting and teaching. Another woman I work closely with has submitted her resignation and will be leaving at the end of the year. I will miss her, but she is going off to better things - moving to Texas and spending time with her family and maybe changing fields, from IT to perhaps Marketing. There is a mandatory meeting for us tomorrow to learn about the latest re-org in our area. They did a re-org last year but didn't get the efficiencies and synergies they thought they would, so they are re-orging their re-org. I told my VP the other day that I knew the people at the top were smart people, but I was having trouble understanding what they were trying to do and it was rather difficult at the tactical level to try and execute upon their decisions. He just laughed and said you hope they are smart people and know what they are doing.

I'm starting my New Year's resolutions early this year. I'm starting to do more for me and acting on what I say is important to me. I say I want to get in better shape. And, I say I want to play the piano better and perhaps pick up the guitar next. But I don't always make the time to exercise and practice. Now, I'm forcing myself to do both every day. I'm organizing my house better and getting rid of things that I don't use. Simplify! I'm doing more volunteer work. Next week, I'm spending the night at a overflow homeless shelter. It's at the same church where I help with the breakfast once a month. I'm starting a new worship service at my church - a praise and worship service. That will take 6-9 months to get off the ground.

Hope everyone is well. Haven't been visiting people's blogs lately. Need to do that, maybe tomorrow. And,maybe I'll start doing my Christmas cards tomorrow.....

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Home For the Holidays

My family generally gets together for Thankgiving. This year, though, my brother and his family won't be coming until March. My sister from California did not come in for the holidays. My mom is going there for Christmas. So, only my sister from Alabama came up for the week with her kids. But surprising news, was that my Uncle Mike came down from Long Island for the holiday. My aunts and cousins were also there. It was a great time full of fun and laughter, and of course, football!

My Uncle Mike did well, but there was a moment at the dinner table, when it was obviously very difficult for him to breathe. My niece had accidently set the level on his oxygen bottle to the lowest setting. It is sad to see how sick he has become and I hope that he is able to get a lung transplant in time.

Went to see the movie "Dan in Real Life" on Saturday. I heard so many good things about it on Rachel's blog from some bloggers and had to see it. It was a great movie. Think it has been overlooked. Anytime I told someone I was going to see it, they said they had never heard of it. The theater was pretty empty although the rest of the theaters at the complex seemed busy.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Where Does the Time Go?

I've been so busy - some fun stuff and too much work stuff! Work is driving me absolutely insane! Too many projects, not enough resources or money or more importantly, TIME -- worse of all is the fact that we have undergone so many re-organizations in the last year, that no one knows who is doing what, who should be doing what and who now has the power. So, I spend all my time re-doing things and re-justifying my numbers and project estimates. One of my peers is not doing his job so my boss has re-allocated his work to me. I'm not sure what they are going to do to him, but I am supposed to make him feel involved while overseeing his work (ie. doing it for him) and giving final approval of his work. I told my boss I don't have time to do that, but here I am forced to do it so that the work gets done. We're going to save $15 million a year so it's not something I can let slide.

Anyway, I've been thinking about this post for a long time but haven't had time to put it in words. A few weeks ago, my daughter turned 18. I remember when I found out I was pregnant. I wasn't married and had no plans to get married, was going to school for my second degree, had my own house, a dog I had rescued who was overly aggressive to everyone but me, and I had never wanted to have children. In fact, I had been told I would find it difficult to get pregnant and that was fine with me. As the oldest of four, who babysat her sisters and brother and then babysat most of the neighborhood for pocket money, I had no desire to have children. I worked different shifts and liked to go out too much. Having a child was not in my plans.

But, when I looked at the results of the pregnancy test and I realized I was pregnant, I was so happy. I was very surprised at how happy I was. Even telling my mother, who was not happy with the news, was not difficult. And, she got over it by the time the baby was born. Naturally, she loved being a grandmother.

I had a supportive family and my mom helped me out a lot when my children were younger. Before Sam went to first grade, I lived not too far from where my mom worked so if I had to work late, she could pick her up from day care for me. I did end up marrying Sam's father when she was two, but family responsibilities were not high on his priority list. Part of the reason we didn't stay together. And, when she went to first grade, we moved to about a mile away from my mom's house. In fact, her brother was born a few weeks before Sam went into first grade. We bought a house a block from the elementary school. Sam did not like change as a child, even good changes bothered her. Right before school was to start, they found mold in the school so the kids had to be bussed to different schools. Sam was not happy about that. The first day of school, I walked her to school and while holding her brother, stood by the bus, while she cried in the window of the school bus looking like a refugee child being shipped away from her family and her village. The bus, for some reason, took over a half hour to pull away from the school. I had to stand there and wave and smile for what seemed like an eternity. Every morning, it was the same tragic scene although her teachers told me she was fine in school. Of course, when the school was cleaned up and she came back to the original school in January, she cried because she no longer took the bus to school.

I think I've done ok by Sam. She is not as independent as I would prefer, but she knows her own mind and does not bow into peer pressure. She has always gone her own way regardless of what her friends do and never participated in what she called the "drama" of high school. She knows who she is and doesn't change for anyone else. When I say she is dependent, I mean, more on me than I would prefer. But we have a very close relationship and she tells me pretty much everything, even things she thinks I will be angry about. She is still finding her own way. The girl who hated high school and barely scraped by grade-wise is getting A's in college. Yes, it is a community college and she is still living at home, but she is studying and working hard at her classes. She is also working two jobs -not saving as much as I would like - the girl likes to shop! She doesn't get that from me although I can spend money as well, but I hate going to the mall.

I look at her and I can't believe she is 18. She tells me she is not sure she is ready for the adult thing. I know she is, but I can't believe 18 years have gone past. But I would not want to relive any of those years. People tell me they wish their children were little again. I've never felt that way. I'll be 45 next month. I also don't feel like I'm that old either. Where has the time gone?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Concert Tonight

It rained this weekend. Good news as we needed the rain. Better news, because now I am free to go listen to one of my favorite local groups, Grey Eye Glances. They are playing in Delaware for the first time. It's about an hour from here so definitely commutable.

I thought I was going to be spending my Saturday watching football games. But the rains made them postpone the high school football games which in turn postponed my son's football games. So instead of watching football in the rain, I'll be off to a club listening to a great band. Sunday, instead, I'll be doing the football scene.

Sunday night, I head off to a global meeting I am leading Monday and Tuesday. It is going to be a busy weekend getting ready for that plus some work assignments my boss requested to be completed by Monday. Better get to work!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Prayers for my Uncle Mike


My Uncle Mike talks tough and is a typical New Yorker. But he hides a big heart and would do anything for his family and friends. He has worked hard his entire life and retired a year or two ago. He worked for Pan Am in various jobs until they went out of business and has had a variety of jobs since then. He loves his two daughters and his wife and feels he has had a good life. Last Spring, while enjoying his retired life, he began going to the gym twice a day in an effort to get healthier and lose some weight. Suddenly, he began having trouble breathing and underwent a series of tests. Turns out all the chemicals he was exposed to during his years at the airline have irreversibly damaged his lungs. He needs a lung transplant or he will probably die in the near future.

Things were looking good for Mike. He's undergoing tests for his transplant; the tests were started in time for him to make the age cutoff for the transplant list. The doctors were optimistic about his chances. I found out tonight that he is in the hospital with a lung infection. Any illness is obviously dangerous for him.


Mike loves children and he likes to "torment" them. When my children were younger, my daughter was afraid of him and didn't want to go to Gram's or Aunt Julie's if Uncle Mike was going to be there. He used to pretend to chew her hair. After a few years, she realized he was not anyone to be afraid of. Above you can see my niece getting the best of Mike.

Mike is a very open and honest man who sees things clearly in black and white. That doesn't mean he doesn't have compassion. He believes that family and commitment are the most important things in life and he lives life that way. If a man gives his word, he needs to honor that pledge. Being ill is hard for him in that he is used to working hard and doing for himself. Not being able to do things like work on his cars or paint the fence is very hard for him. He is accepting of his fate saying he's had a good life, a happy family, beautiful daughters, a good wife and a year of retirement. He's made amends with who he needs to and is at peace no matter what happens to him.

I pray that we keep him around a little longer. We can use more people like him.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Another Monday, Another Ambulance

Every Monday night football game, it seems, we have to call an ambulance to the game. Usually it is for one of the opposing team players - we've had several possible spinal injuries - and it is scary to watch them get strapped into the boards and carted off in the ambulance. Once it was for a spectator who somehow tripped and fell into a street sign, smashing up their nose very badly and also possibly injuring his neck.

Tonight it was for one of our players and the initial thought is that he messed up his ACL. He was having a great game up to that point and had scored a touchdown. We won 33-6 and there were a lot of great plays by our team. My son scored a touchdown and had some other great runs. One of his friends was the boy who got hurt. His parents took it very well, but I thought his grandmother was going to have a heart attack. She was shaking uncontrollably and had an anxiety attack.

Two more weeks of football and then we go into the play-offs. After football, basketball starts fairly quickly. Last year, Jason broke his collarbone about this same time and missed the end of the season and the beginning of basketball. Last weekend, my nephew broke his arm badly playing football down in Alabama. Dangerous game, but they love playing so much and enjoy the physical contact. My son is not a very big kid but he is very tough and can lay out the biggest opponents. I wonder at myself sometimes when I am proud that he's "flattened" another player and the other player has a hard time getting up. And, I wonder how they can tell the other player, after they've been flattened, that it was a good hit and he did a good job.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Great Decider

Unfortunately, President Bush was in my hometown the other day. Luckily I was at work 80 miles away and didn't have to deal with him and his entourage. He came here to announce why he was vetoing the Children's Healthcare bill.

From the newspaper, I got a list of Bushisms that he managed to say while here. It's enough to make you cry that this man is the President of the United States.

My job is a decision-making job. And as a result, I make a lot of decisions.

I always tell Condi Rice, "I want to remind you, Madam Secretary, who has the Ph.D. and who was the C student. And I want to remind you who the advisor is and who the president is.

I got a lot of Ph.D. types and smart people around me who come into the Oval Office and say, "Mr President, here's what's on my mind." And I listen carefully to their advice. But having gathered the device (sic), I decide, you know, I say, "This is what we're going to do." And it's "Yes, sir, Mr President." And then we get after it, implement policy.

When talking about cutting taxes, he said
You know, when you give a man more money in his pocket -- in this case a woman more money in her pocket -- to expand a business, it -- they build buildings. And when somebody builds a new building, somebody has got to come and build the building. And when the building expanded, it prevented (sic) additional opportunities for people to work.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Foy Vance and his new album, Hope

Don't think it has been released in the States yet, but I got a copy that Foy sent to my cousin. Great album! I really like the quote that Foy put in his cover notes. It came from a book called "Music Lovers Quotations" that he found in a thrift store. I understand why Foy said it took his breath away.

I tell the story of love, the story of sorrow, the story that saves and the story that destroys...I am the smoke which palls over the field of battle where men die with me on their lips.

I am close to the marriage altar, and when the grave opens I stand nearby. I call the wanderer home, I rescue the soul from the depths; I open the lips of lovers and through me the dead whisper to the living.

One I serve as I serve all, and the leaders I make my slaves as easily as I subject their slaves. I speak through the birds of the air, the insects of the field, the crash of waters on rock ribbed shores, the sighing of the winds in the trees and I am even heard by the soul that knows me in the clatter of wheels on the city streets"
-- Anonymous

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Looming Tower

Where did September go?

I went to San Francisco for a business conference. While on the plane, I read Lawrence Wright's book "The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11." It was a fascinating story about how Al-Qaeda evolved and the personal histories of Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.

"Not content to cleanse its own country of the least degree of religious freedom, the Saudi government set out to evangelize the Islamic world, using the billions of riyals at its disposal through the religious tax -- zakat -- to construct hundreds of mosques and colleges and thousands of religious schools around the globe, staffed with Wahhabi imams and teachers. Eventually, Saudi Arabia, which constitutes only 1 percent of the world Muslim population, would support 90 percent of the expenses of the entire faith, overriding other traditions of Islam.

Music disappeared in the Kingdom. Shortly after the 1979 attack on the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Umm Kalthoum and Fayrouz, the songbirds of the Arab world, were banished from the Kingdom's television stations, which were already dominated by bearded men debating fine points of religious law. There had been a few movie theaters in Saudi Arabia before the mosque attack, but they were quickly shut down. A magnificent concert hall was completed by Riyadh in 1989, but it never hosted a single performance. Censorship smothered art and literature, and intellectual life, which had scarcely had the chance to blossom in the young country, withered. Paranoia and fanaticism naturally occupy minds that are closed and fearful.

For the young, the future in this already joyless environment promised even less than the present. ... Despair and idleness are dangerous companions in any culture, and it was inevitable that the young would search for a hero who could voice their longing for a change and provide a focus for their rage."

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Injury TimeOut

Went to pick my son up from football practice Thursday night. As I got there, I saw a group of people huddled around someone laying on the ground at the far end of the field. One of my friends was running across the field with a colored afghan she must have grabbed from her car.

My son and other boys were running around the near part of the field so I was instantly relieved to see it wasn't him. Another father came up from the concession stand area calling for his son. I asked him who had been injured and he said I think it is Zach. Zach is the son of my friend who had been running across the field.

I walked across the field to find Zach lying on the ground with a coach (who is also a paramedic) also lying on the ground holding his helmet to keep his head and neck still. Zach's mother was sitting on the ground talking to her son. The ambulance soon arrived and drove across the field. Zach was moving his feet and hands so I felt sure he was going to be ok, but it was still very emotional to see him strapped onto a backboard with his head immoblized and then strapped onto the stretcher. Zach's mom drove in the ambulance to the hospital with her son and I arranged with her that she should call me when they were ready to be picked up. My ex-husband and another friend took her car home for her. She called me around 11 that night to say that they were done at the hospital and he only had a cervical strain.

This weekend, Zach is trying to take it easy. Not so easy for him considering Friday night, one of his friends had a sleepover party with 20 boys. He was there with my son for a few hours and then Zach went home rather than sleeping over. Today, Zach is here with my son and four other boys and they are trying to find things to do that Zach can also do.

My son asked me why Zach's mom was crying at the football field, even though she did her best to hide the tears from her son and the other people. She didn't cry in front of Zach but as she came back down the field to get in the ambulance, she was wiping her eyes. My son noticed that. Jason wanted to know why she was crying and when he hurt his knee, I was making jokes and I didn't cry. I said I didn't want to upset him and wanted him to feel ok - that if I cried in front of him or acted like it was serious, he would be more scared and anxious and it would hurt worse for him. May not have been the best explanation because he said he would know in the future and not believe me when I say that it is fine and not a big deal.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Eight Things About Me

Sully tagged me so here it goes:

1) I have a crooked face. The one side of my face is slightly smaller than the other. Most people don't notice it at all and even if I say something about it, they don't see it. Others notice it right away. At one of my jobs, I had to take a physical exam by the company doctor. As soon as I got into the exam room, the company doctor asked me what happened to my face and suggested that I have surgery to correct it. He was very rude and it didn't seem strange to him that he would suggest I have all the bones in my face broken so they would align up a little better.

I also can raise my one eyebrow (like Spock on Star Trek) which can really bug some people. I could never do Botox because I wouldn't want to lose that ability!

2) I am always surprised by my outward appearance and presence as compared to how I feel in the inside. When I see myself on video, it never seems to sync up to the inner person. Today, I was also thinking to myself that while I turn 45 in December, I don't feel 45 at all. At times, I feel more like a gawky teenager trying to figure things out.

3) When I was about 2, my family moved to Japan and lived on a naval base while my father served in Vietnam. When we left Japan two years later, I was speaking half-Japanese, half-English. Of course, now, I can't speak any Japanese. Always wondered if I would be able to pick it up easily or not. I spoke German fairly fluently in high school and college. When I was in Germany a few years ago, I could understand those around me, but could not speak as much as I used to be able to.

4) I learned how to drink Guinness beer in Germany at an Irish bar from a Scottish salesman who was dating the Croatian barmaid. They took us to another club where friends of their's were playing in the band. The lead singer of that band was a brain surgeon who had operated on the Croatian woman's son after a bombing.

5) When I was in elementary school, I was placed in a gifted program, an advanced studies program that took me out of class one day a week to go to a different school. I didn't like the program because it made me feel too different than the other kids. One week, I didn't want to go to the program because my class was doing something else I considered to be more fun. Since my parents wouldn't let me skip the advanced program, I decided I would miss the bus so I couldn't go. I walked the mile to school taking baby steps the whole way. It didn't work however. The school held the bus for me. When I got home, my mother wanted to know where I had been all day. Apparently the school called her and said I wasn't there. But they never called her back to say I was there.

6) My father was in the Navy so we moved around quite a bit. After Japan, we went to Rhode Island where I learned to read in nursery school. We then moved to Pennsylvania and I was asked to leave kindergarten because I was disruptive. They were learning the alphabet and I already knew how to read. We lived with my grandmother for a while in PA in a small coal mining town, Nesquehoning. I used to roam the streets and talk to the neighbors. There was one man, I called him the Onion Man, because I would talk to him while he was working in his vegetable garden. I told him that my grandmother could take her teeth out and kept them in a glass. He said, like this? and pushed his false teeth out of his mouth. I ran home and I'm not sure I ever talked to him again.

7) I graduated from college with a degree in business and a concentration in personnel management. I changed my major several times in college, starting out as a journalism major, then to social work and then to business. Before I graduated, I did my internship at Three Mile Island working in their personnel department for a summer in college. I remembered back when the accident happened at TMI. I lived nearby and my father was the town manager. As town manager, he was in charge of evacuating the town if it came to that. A 16-year old at the time, I decided I was not leaving. We argued about it but we were never evacuated.

After college, I took a temporary job at a trucking company that turned into five years. While there, I went back to college and started earning another degree in computer science. My daughter was born and I quit the trucking company to focus on school. My first computer science job was for a company who hired most if not all their employees in mid-June. They would have 200-300 people start every year at the same time. My IT team (10 of us) spent that summer in orientation together. They were all very early 20s and I was almost 30, married, and with a two-year old child.

8) I have always loved music even though I can't sing and my kids laugh at my dancing attempts. I played electric guitar in elementary school, then took drum lessons (got kicked out of the school band), and taught myself piano and some violin. When my daughter wanted to take an instrument in elementary school, I suggested she also take piano lessons. When she started, I started taking them as well. Figured I should learn to play the right way. So, now I take piano lessons one day a week, in the morning before I leave for work. My instructor comes to my house before 6 am - only time I can be sure that I have the time. Work and kids take up all the rest of my time. :-)

So now I have to tag eight other bloggers, so I'll tag:

ColleenM
Nabonidus
GreekZoe
Rich Greiner
Whooligan
Mermaid in MN
Suesjoy
Delbut

Saturday, August 25, 2007

End of Summer

College started last week for my daughter. She is finding it easier than she expected. That's good. School starts Tuesday for my son. He is not excited about going back, but I am. He's been running pretty free this summer and I'd like him to have more structure in his life.

We spent a night this week in the ER with a football injury. My son sprained his knee badly when he got tackled during practice. He was in a lot of pain for two days, but today, it seems back to normal. The doctor didn't want to release him for football until next Friday, but I expect he'll be back at practice before then.

Work has been incredibly busy the last few weeks. I am kicking off a global project to implement SAP security tools for all Consumer operating companies. So I had people in from all over the world for a week to begin the planning and design work. We got a lot done during the week and I've gotten kudos from the project sponsors and my boss. I spent a lot of time getting ready for it and then spent every day leading the discussion and the evenings documenting our accomplishments. By the time the weekend came around, I was exhausted. Plus, we have another project we are working on that has a critical deadline, will save us $15-20 million a year ongoing, that is behind schedule. The project manager is, in my view, not doing a very good job and I've had to step in too many times to try and get it back on track. It was stressful for me because I don't like having to tell my boss this person isn't doing a good job and trying to intercede tactfully, but effectively, has been draining.

I am also teaching myself FrontPage. My church has asked me to take over the church website. It was redesigned recently by someone, but no one has been able to keep it up to date. The task was assigned to one of the church secretaries, but she didn't really have the time or the skills to update it. It has been a little frustrating, because some of my changes appear to the public, but others are not showing up. As I look at the different files, they don't seem to be connected the way the manuals tell me they should be. And, errors are present in most pages when I look at the error reports. I've finally gotten the contact information for the person who redesigned it and hopefully once I sit down with him, I'll be able to make more sense of it. Any FrontPage experts out there can feel free to send me some tips 'n tricks!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

What does the future hold?


Several of us went to a psychic fair today and had our fortunes told and underwent a reike healing exercise. I thought my reading went very well. I've done this before and had some readings that turned out to be extremely accurate - sometimes they would mention people in my life without any way of knowing about those people. Once I had a reader tell me something about my Uncle Charles. I told her I didn't have an Uncle Charles. She insisted I did. And, actually I did have an Uncle Charles, but we always called him Chuck and I never thought of him as Charles. Other readers took my comments and created a future based on my words and comments.

This reading was from tarot cards and I spoke very little so the reader was not feeding my information back to me. She started out by saying that I was working through an issue with my mother. I said I didn't have any issues with my mother. She insisted I did and that I was working through it and was beginning the separation process from her. That I needed to separate from her before I could have a permanent relationship with anyone. I asked her if possibly she was talking about my daughter. Since she is in her late teens, of course, we are working through the normal separation process. But in our case, we have always had issues with my dating ever since I left her father eight years ago. As she moves onto college and is dating herself, we are working through this.

My reader identified a number of issues I am currently working through and said she saw positive resolution by year-end. She also had positive things to say about my career. She had some messages from my father and said that he is trying very hard to contact me and is frustrated that I am not hearing him. My father died when I was 19 and after his death, I felt him and heard him quite often, but now, not so much. She said I need to start spending a few minutes a day opening myself up to him to try and let him get his messages through.

She had a lot of information about my daughter, that without my saying anything about her, was very true. I regret now I didn't ask about my son. Although another reader did say positive things about my son to my mother who was also at the event.

Next year, I am to have a stronger sense of stability and will be striving for balance in all aspects of my life. Since I feel more stable, I will have more peace and more relaxation and fun in my life.

On a sadder note, I have learned (not at the reading) someone I care about very much is probably going to die in the near future. He is at peace with this news, says he has had a good life and has done whatever reconciliation he needed to do with the people in his life. He is not an old man and should have had many more years to enjoy his life and family. He is going to live his days out the way he wants to and with the people who mean the most to him.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Vote for Amanda Kaletsky

On the radio to the left, vote for Amanda. Voting is through Sept 18.

For those of you who haven't heard Amanda, check out her website (link on my site) and give a listen to her music. She plays on the east coast and I think she's pretty good. The song she has entered is not one of my favorites. I really like her song "December" and the song "Never Enough"

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Dress Makes a Man

I had to go to NJ the other day for work to visit the home office. While driving home, I was listening to the BBC on my Sirius radio. They had a news item where they referenced a British saying that dress makes a man. That's probably not the right phrase - my memory doesn't retain as much as it used to... but it's very similar to our saying in the States.

But anyway, they were doing a segment of three incidents that happened in the world recently about the style of dress. I only listened to the first segment because they were going to report on them in separate parts of the hour's show. The first incident they talked about occurred in South Africa. A woman wearing pants was attacked by a mob who were unhappy about her wearing such modern, urban attire. They stripped her of her pants and made her parade half-naked in front of them and then they burned her house down. On BBC they were debating whether this was done because they feared the pants as being an urban symbol or because they viewed pants as being too modern. Such attacks are unfortunately not uncommon.

When we were in Niagara Falls the other week, there were a large number of Muslim visitors. I'm assuming they were tourists since they were in the tourist area, but maybe they were residents. It was a warm day, but not overwhelmingly hot if you were wearing light clothing. Several of the Muslim women were wearing the full burkas, including only a small slit for their eyes to see through. Dressed all in black, it must have been extremely hot for them. Others were fully covered and wore head scarves, while a few had decorated black burkas without the full headcovering, but only a scarf covering their hair. Most of the young Muslim female children were wearing less clothing, but I did see one or two very young girls wearing full coverings and head scarves. I also saw a few families with several generations where the older women wore the full coverings and the other generations were less covered, the younger they were. Grandmothers in almost full burkas, mothers fully covered but only with a head scarf, teenage girls fully covered but with their hair uncovered. The fathers however, all were wearing short-sleeve shirts and shorts, much more appropriate for the weather.

I remember trying to leave my house as a teenager and my father would stop me and tell me to go change because no daughter of his was leaving the house looking like that. Young girls today, like my daughter, dress in a sexier fashion than I would like at times. As Chair of the Worship Commission at church, I sometimes get complaints about the attire of the young female acolytes. At the later service, which mostly older members attend, we ask the acolytes to wear a robe. Short skirts can cause problems when lighting the altar candles. I remember arguing with my parents that people should judge us by our character, not by our clothes, makeup or hairstyle. Problem is people don't see your character, they see your appearance.

I can understand dressing modestly, or wearing certain clothing styles, as part of your religion. I can't understand covering yourself up from head to toe in black with even a black net covering your eyes.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Wall of Fire

I am a fireworks fanatic. The week of July 4th is spent going from one fireworks display to another. We have good shows here.

When we got to the hotel in Niagara, I was excited to see a flier lying on the check-in counter advertising a half-hour long, Wall of Fire, a kilometer long, most spectacular fireworks display you will ever see. The show was supposed to start at 10:00 on Saturday.



Saturday, we went over to the Falls and walked around. Of course, we did the Journey Behind the Falls, and then picked up the Peoplemover to go to the Butterfly Conservatory. We got off unexpectedly to walk the trails down to the river. I hadn't done that before and it was a neat experience. Also discovered how badly out of shape I was - I would rather do this type of exercise than go to the gym, but of course, spending more time at the gym would have helped with some of those steep climbs.

After we were done exploring, we headed back towards the Falls area. We found an outside table at a restaurant overlooking the Falls. It was supposed to be a good spot to observe the fireworks and we thought we would get thrown out to make room for people with reservations. But we lingered over food, drinks, dessert, drinks, and more food until the fireworks started.

Crowds began to gather below, staking out their space on the lawn or the sidewalk. There was a band playing outside who sounded pretty good. Fathers were dancing with their young daughters. Children were jumping, running and laughing with each other. Moms were spreading out blankets and leftover ponchos as seats.

I have to confess though I was so disappointed with the fireworks show. The crowds that were below me were ooh'ing and ah'ing. Photographers and videographers on the balcony with me were trying to get every shot. It was not what I would call a wall of fire. I had expected something more like a constant finale for a kilometer down the street. Instead, it was a boom, pause, a boom, pause, boom, boom, pause, .... Yawn...

But all in all, it was a great day and spending dinner overlooking the Falls was a pretty good evening. As the sun was setting, you could see the rainbows over the Falls where the sunlight hit the mist.

Butterfly Man



We went to Niagara Falls for the weekend. I should say the day, because we got there Friday night, had Saturday at the Falls, and came back Sunday. Schuyler wanted to go to the Butterfly Conservatory. We got there at a bad time - several tour buses had just dropped off which made it a little crowded.

I've been to Niagara before and to the Butterfly Conservatory. I remember the conservatory more fondly in the past than this weekend with the crowds. They tell you over and over not to try and touch the butterflies but to let them land on you. People were continually trying to touch the butterflies and to force them onto their fingers. I felt stressed watching them. When I saw a little boy pick one up by the wings, I had to say something. When I told him he would hurt the butterflies like that, he threw it behind one of the bushes and walked off.



There were some pretty blue butterflies there from Costa Rica. I was chasing them around with my camera lens but they wouldn't stay still. And when they were still, they folded up their wings which were a unattractive brownish color on the other side. The one here I finally got right as we were leaving. It landed on this boy's sleeve while at the same time, another landed on his hand. One little boy had four butterflies on him at once.




Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Priorities

According to the National Priorities Project,
http://www.nationalpriorities.org/home/index.php, Pennsylvania has or will spend $17.4 billion through 2007 for the Iraq War.

Instead of war, we could have chosen to spend that money to provide:

4,040,849 People with Health Care

OR

287,581 Elementary School Teachers

OR

2,466,634 Head Start Places for Children

OR

5,135,438 Children with Health Care

OR

176,723 Affordable Housing Units

OR

1,210 New Elementary Schools

OR

1,510,938 Scholarships for University Students

OR

296,911 Music and Arts Teachers

OR

400,989 Public Safety Officers

OR

20,911,444 Homes with Renewable Electricity

OR

267,352 Port Container Inspectors

OR......



What could you have done with the money to better the world? And, what could those who died, all who died, have done with their lives?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Great to see Mac again




Schuyler and I packed up the kids and went to NJ Friday where we met up with Colleen. Leaving the kids in the hotel, we headed into New York City to see Ian McLagan and the Bump Band at BB King's. Colleen and I had seen Mac in Austin at SXSW. First time for both of us, but we made sure we caught their act three times.

Our table at first was off to the side, but fortunately for us, some people left the center table so we asked to switch seats. We were looking for Lynne who is Mac's assistant - turns out, she was sitting right below us in the lower level. Our new seats were perfect.

The show was too short, partly our fault because we got there a little late. Hotel had no restaurant due to renovations so we had to feed the kids before we could leave. But after the show, we had the opportunity to meet Mac again and spend a few minutes talking to him. Like a past experience with Pete, it was deja vu when the guy behind us in line had an armful of old record albums that he wanted signed. We let him go in front of us so we would have more time to chat with Lynne and Mac.

Mac and the boys are touring this summer so if you have the opportunity to catch up with them, have a great time!




America - What's Happened to Us?

That's what Melissa Etheridge asked during her performance at LiveEarth in NJ Saturday. She sang a song, "Imagine That" in which she talked about the power of change and how we can become agents of change. She stopped in the middle of the song to ask "America, what's happened to us?" She talked about the past and how when there was an unjust war, people stood up and raised their voices against it, some giving their lives for the cause.



She referred to a time in the past when we had a criminal for a President. Said that democracy was important to us and we stood up and raised our voices against him. "America, what's happened to us?" She said that maybe our credit cards and our desire to consume is taking up our time.

Imagine if Monday morning, we would raise our voices and say Enough! She has faith in America, that when Americans see injustice, they rise up and speak the truth...

You can see part of her performance and all the LiveEarth performers at http://liveearth.msn.com/


Monday, June 25, 2007

People Who Live in Glass Houses

I paid attention to the Paris Hilton drama only because I thought she was going to get special treatment because she is famous for being famous. I was angry at her parents' reaction when she was sentenced to jailtime. I thought they were making excuses for her behavior and encouraging her not to accept responsibility for her actions. When she was released from jail early, I was disappointed but not surprised. I was very surprised when she was sent back to fulfill her sentence and also surprised that she managed to complete it outside of the hospital cell. I'm not sure she should have gotten 20+ days but after spending a day in NJ traffic court, I can't say it seemed unusual. Traffic court judges hear all kinds of stories and excuses and at times, they seem to enjoy their ability to hand down sentences. I was lucky in a sense - I felt strongly enough that my ticket was unjust and I was able to get the prosecutor to reduce my penalty. In the past, when I got a ticket, I paid the penalty without question. This time, however, I wanted my day in court.

But, I'm getting away from the point of this post. It now appears that the prosecutor had some sins of his own that are now putting him on the hot seat. It is alleged that his wife not only drove on a suspended license; she, as he did, drove for long periods of time without insurance; she crashed his city-issued car and he allowed the taxpayers to pay for the repairs; the company she owned failed to pay taxes and he had his city staff run personal errands for him as well as babysit his children. While he was screaming for Paris to fulfill the legal penalty for her crimes, he seemed to have no compunction to follow the law or to fulfill the ethics of his office himself.

There was a family killed recently in a town a few miles from my home. A man, his wife and his son were stabbed in their home located in a small peaceful community where people often didn't even lock their doors. It scared everyone. There was a run on security systems. Neighborhoods were lit up at night. People formed neighborhood watches and luckily no one was shot accidently as nervous residents either bought firearms or brought them out of closets and locked boxes. The police brought in the FBI as they had no clues and no suspects. It recently turned out that a young high school boy committed the crimes, killing the family of what was supposed to be his best friend. He also killed his best friend.

Who turned in the killer? It was his parents. I cannot imagine how difficult it was for them to take that step. They loved him. They provided a good life for him. He was never in trouble before. While his parents were divorced, they had joint custody of him and lived close to each other. It seems he spent his time between the two of them and they seemed, from the news and from community reports, to be a good family. After the murders, the boy experienced what seemed to be extreme grief, what was to be expected when your best friend is mysteriously and tragically murdered for some unknown reason by some unknown assailant. The boy threatened suicide and was eventually committed to a psychiatric institution for his own safety. While there, he confessed the murder to his father and told him where the weapon was. After what must have been a terrible 48 hours, the father and the mother went to the police and turned their son in. They have not abandoned him, however, they seem to be supporting him without making excuses for him.

In today's world, that parents would do that, turn their son in to the police is amazing to me. I'm used to the parents like the ones who denied up and down that their children smashed the mailboxes in my neighborhood even though they were caught standing next to the smashed mailbox with a baseball bat. He was just standing there at 3:00 am when the mailbox just fell over by itself. Someone else must have done it. Not my son!

I can't imagine having my child tell me that they have done something so horrendous, so awful as to purposely take someone else's life, to take three people's lives. What guilt you must feel, what shock and horror, as you watch your child's life and all the dreams you had for that child fall away to what will most likely be life in prison. And, your life, the position you had in the community, your friends - it's all changed for those parents. Just as their son's life is destroyed, they will have to rebuild their lives and change their dreams for the future. They continue to face the scrutiny of the press, from CNN to the local news. How do they find the strength to move forward, to help their son through this, to get themselves through this? But then again, they had the strength to do the right thing.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Men in Kilts

Went to the Celtic Fling with my boyfriend and his kids. Lots of men in kilts and women in costumes walked the grounds. We sat down at one stage and they started recruiting men for the kilts competition. The kids said they wanted to stay, but that's because they didn't really know what it was. After the third man strutted down the stage and hitched his kilt up slightly to show his legs, they decided they had had enough. Below is a picture of the men gathering courage for the competition.





Lots of fabulous Irish music and Irish step-dancing. This was the Wood family who appeared last year on "Who's got talent" - that may not be the right name of the show, I've never watched it. But apparently they were in the top five. They have six children and the entire family is in the show. The girls play violins, as do the boys who also played other instruments. There was a seven-year old boy Aiden who occasionally ran out and did some step-dancing and then ran backstage again



Monday, June 18, 2007

Roller Coasters

We have season passes to a local amusement park. I took my son and his friend on Saturday for the day. If he wouldn't have scheduled the day with a friend, I would have skipped going as I woke up with a bad headache. But we went and I mostly sat by the exits waiting for the boys to get off the rides. When we went into the water park section, I took a nap in the shade for an hour or so while the boys played on the water slides.

I thought I was rid of my headache and went on a roller coaster with the boys. My headache came back with a vengence so once again, I was sitting at the exits waiting. I have always loved roller coasters, but lately I don't know if it is because I am getting older or if the new coasters have gotten too wild for me, but I'm not as excited about them as I used to be. My son only started enjoying coasters last year.

This year, he wanted to go on a coaster he hadn't been on before - it goes from 0-60 in 2 seconds and the entire ride only lasts 60 seconds. I couldn't go on because of my headache, plus I didn't want to leave his friend alone for the time we would wait in line. My son pleaded and begged his friend to go on with him, but his friend refused. My son decided he would go on alone, but was wavering in his decision. He finally strode off to the end of the line and we waited for him to return. Would he go on the coaster by himself or would he return telling us the line was too long...

He went on the coaster and is so proud of himself for doing so. And, I am surprised and proud as well.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Growing Up




It has been a busy month so far. My daughter and her friends graduated from high school, my cousin got married and I had a business trip to Chicago.

Graduation was something my daughter has been waiting for for a long time. She has found high school to be too full of drama. I am happy that she has always been self-confident enough to get through high school without succumbing to peer pressure, not letting the cliches get to her. Teenage girls can be so mean to each other. I thought I would avoid that with my son, but I'm finding even 11-year old boys can act like that.




The weekend after graduation, we had her graduation party. Immediately following the party, we drove to a harbor city where my cousin was getting married. About 30 of us had dinner there and then spent the night. The next morning, we went to the cruise ship for the wedding. They got married on the ship and then sailed to Bermuda for their honeymoon. Some of the wedding party and guests joined them on the cruise. I had to race to the airport to fly to Chicago for a business trip.


Most of my pictures from the wedding were horrible. The room was fairly dark and even though it was cloudy and overcast outside, the windows were very bright. So my pictures were either too light, too dark or too blurry.


Friday, May 25, 2007

Exile

I just finished Richard North Patterson's book, Exile. It was a fascinating read set in current time exploring the relationship between Israel and Palestine and the other relationship in the Middle East, including the US relationship with the Middle East. It is a raw depiction of the hate and pain on both sides and how it has affected multiple generations, continuing today without cease. A Jewish man and a Palestinian woman fall in love in college. But they cannot be together due to their cultural backgrounds. He is not a religious Jew, but still shaped by the Jewish destiny. She feels an inescapable draw to her family, her cultural upbringing, which he can not understand as he is more American than Jewish. Most Americans do not have that undying connection to their families, to their history. They try to shape their own destinies, not adapt to a destiny that was shaped for them by others. Most do not understand sacrificing your own desires to fulfill someone else's, to meet your obligations to your family and your village.

After 13 years, they meet again. This time she is accused of murdering the Israeli Prime Minister, an act of terrorism. He defends her, losing his fiance, his political career and most of the life he had built since college. In his search for a defense, he goes to the Middle East and sees the pain and the hatred first hand.

I have read much of the history of the Middle East. I get daily emails from the Christian Peacemaker Teams, but the depiction of the current existence shown through the eyes of two lovers who cannot be together made it seem more real. My mother who gave me the book hadn't realized the way it is. She couldn't believe that a woman in labor could wait for hours to pass through a border crossing even if it meant that she or her baby would die in the car waiting for permission.

There is so much hatred and wrong done by both sides. Will we ever find peace and acceptance?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Back from NJ

I was in NJ last week for work. Long meetings all day, entertaining at night, and no internet in the hotel. Got back Friday night and spent the weekend working on the yard - cutting grass, putting soil around the foundation of the house and then spreading mulch. Ran out of mulch and have about 5' left to go.

My daughter had her Prom Saturday night. The girls were ready around 3 and weren't supposed to leave until 5. So they went out for ice cream. Limo and their dates arrived around 5 along with all the family members for a photo shoot in my backyard. She was beautiful and her boyfriend also looked very dapper. They had a very good time.



Update on the bird's nest: Only one egg remains and Momma bird has apparently flown the coop. Haven't seen her for a while, so we think something attacked the nest.

Happy Mother's Day to everyone.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Ruth Hart

Ruth Hart died on Wednesday. I didn't know Ruth very well. I learned more about her in her obituary than I did from her in person. She didn't talk about herself, but showed her love for people through her actions.

I met Ruth when teaching a fifth-grade Sunday School class. Ruth ran the food bank at our church. I arranged for my class to meet Ruth. She told them about the food bank, how it was organized and who used the food bank. She explained to them how bags of food were provided to people or families who needed food, how much and what types of food were put into the bags, and explained how she distributed food based on her knowledge of the family. For example, based on the number of children, she might put extra fruit or juice in the bags. My class conducted a food drive for the food bank.

After that, whenever I saw Ruth, she greeted me with a hug and told me how happy she was to see me. She told me in words and actions that she thought I was special.

The Saturday before she died, I ran into her at a local restaurant. Again, she gave me a hug and told me how happy she was to see me. She told my date how much she enjoyed seeing my smiling face at church and how special I was. I didn't see her at church the next day although I'm told she was there. She must have come to the later service. I thought about her many times that week for some reason.

This morning at our Homeless Breakfast, I learned the news that she had died earlier in the week. We all talked about how much she had done for people. After the breakfast, I came home and looked for her obituary. I had missed it in the paper. I learned in her obituary that she was a nurse, married for 51 years before becoming a widow, had lost an infant son, and had a surviving son, several grandchildren and several great-grandchildren. She worked in public health and also was a long-term volunteer in serving the underprivileged. Her work with the Food Bank was only one of the many things that she did.

I've been thinking about Ruth and other people like her a lot today. While Ruth did many things for people, one of the things that she did most was make people feel special. When she saw you, she was happy to see you. She hugged you and focused her conversation on you.

There are other people I've felt that way about. Jim, one of my former managers, was like that. When you walked into his office, no matter what he was doing, he made you feel like he had been waiting there just for you and was so happy to see you. This guy goes on vacations and makes life-long friends while on vacation. He has traveled with these new friends, gone to visit them at their homes on future vacations, and stays in touch with them.

Monica, also from church, welcomes people into her home all the time. She collects strays, mostly teenagers, but sometimes adults, and takes them under her wing until they are able to stand on their own. She represents Mother Earth to me - stable, understanding, comforting, nurturing - a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend.

I think about how I interact with other people. I do a lot of community service, but do I really touch other people like these people do? Do I make them feel special and show them that I am happy to see them? Do I talk about them or do I talk about me in our conversations? Do I focus more on my list of to-do items rather than enjoying my time with these people?

Thank you, Ruth, for making me feel special. I will miss you.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Bird's Nest


There is a perfectly formed bird's nest in the tree next to my deck. My dog is going crazy with it constantly trying to get to the tree, either through the railing or from the ground. She stands on the deck pointing to the nest. Wonder what she'll do when the eggs hatch.

We were sitting out on the deck and mama bird was missing for a long time. After cooking on the grill, the bird still hadn't come back so I was afraid we scared her off. But when I went out to put the grill cover back on, she was sitting on the nest. Of course, my putting on the grill cover scared her off again.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Atlanta Update

We had over 17,000 people at the conference which ended this afternoon. Forgot to mention that our entertainment Sunday night was the Georgia Aquarium. We took it over Sunday night and hosted a party for 5,000 of the attendees. Unfortunately, we weren't able to accommodate everyone, but there are always enough parties to go around during our conferences. Vendors set up numerous dinners and other events for their customers, actual and prospective.

Tuesday's night concert was John Mayer. John is a much more accomplished guitarist than I had thought. He failed to interact with the audience who was down in the aisles dancing and cheering for him. He had to little to say other than, "Are you having a good time?" He said that about three times. He did mention that he used to live in Atlanta and loved the city. His band members did not interact very much with each other either. One of the vendors had given out glow necklaces to the attendees. During the concert, people in the stands connected their necklaces so that there was a long glow rope twisting throughout the entire Phillips Arena. It even draped down from the higher level seats down to the lower level seats and looped around the entire stadium. John didn't mention this until during his encore when he said it showed we were a symbiotic corporation. I don't think he got the purpose of the event/conference.

Because I'm one of the volunteer leaders, I was able to get floor seats for my group. We had a good time, but it wasn't one of the better concerts I've gone to. I heard a lot of people, however, raving about how good the concert was. And one of my group chairs was in heaven because she is such a JM fan.

Now, I've got to get back to work and then head home Thursday afternoon.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Taking Over Atlanta

Arrived in Atlanta Saturday afternoon for our Spring Conference. Over 15,000 people are here. We've taken all the hotel rooms near the convention center and some of us have to stay over in the Buckhead area. I think I have walked over 50 miles since Saturday. I thought my feet hurt at SXSW - boy, was I wrong!!

Weather is beautiful. The conference is going well. Usual complaints about the walking within the convention center and having too many sessions to choose from. We've changed how we do meals and it seems to be causing some problems. In the past, we've had sit down buffet-style lunches. Now they are grab and go so the lines are very long. As I stood in line, I heard many complaints from people.

Like Jerry Lewis, we are already planning for our next conference even before this one ends. The next conference, smaller and more hands-on, will be in San Francisco in Sept. We won't have more than 2,000 at that conference since we'll be focusing on Supply Chain and Manufacturing, Product Lifecyle, and Plant Maintenance (renamed Enterprise Asset Mgmt).

Entertainment for tomorrow night is a John Mayer concert. We're angling for backstage passes, but it probably won't happen. Instead, we'll go for front row seats!

I have never seen so many beggers in my life as I have experienced in Atlanta in the blocks around the convention center. Even not making eye contact doesn't help - they still ask for money. They've even come into the convention center and pan-handled the conference attendees. They go through the trash pulling things out for later re-use. They comb through the cigarette butts in the ashtrays and pull the longer butts out to smoke later.

For every begger, however, there is an Atlanta ambassador. Someone from the visitors' center dressed in a bright uniform walking the sidewalks and manning the information booths offering help and assistance. Also, an equal number of police officers strolling the streets in a constant manner.

I'll come back home Thursday afternoon. It will be nice to be home.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Who Do We Notice?

The killings at Virginia Tech have captured the world's attention. People throughout the US mourn for people they've never met. South Korea is expressing a sense of national guilt. Other nations follow the news in sympathy and sometimes in judgement.

Thirty-two people were killed in VA on Monday and the 24-hour news channels have not stopped reporting on the incident. I have cried as I watched the news and as I hear parents talk about their child who is no longer here. I have a daughter entering college in the Fall and as we've had a school shooting and other incidents nearby, the possibility is near to home. It could have been a different college. It could have been a different building. It could have been a different day and the people who died would have been different people. There was no logic, it seems, for most of their deaths.

Not to take anything away from that tragic incident, but over 170 people died today in Baghdad. It didn't get much attention in the news:

The Interior Ministry said the dead and injured included:
• 122 dead, 150 wounded in Sadriya market in central Baghdad;
• 28 dead, 44 wounded in an attack near an Iraqi Army checkpoint at one of the entrances to Sadr City, the official said;
• 11 civilians were killed and 13 others wounded when a parked car bomb detonated in central Baghdad's Karrada district. The car was parked near a hospital and a market;
• Four police officers were killed and 6 civilians wounded when a suicide car bomber exploded at an Iraqi police checkpoint in southern Baghdad;
• Four people were killed and eight were wounded by a bomber targeting a police patrol near a checkpoint in Saidiya, in southwestern Baghdad. Two of those killed were police and the other two were civilians;
• Two civilians were killed and 9 others wounded when a roadside bomb detonated at a busy intersection in central Baghdad.


Do we only notice the deaths in Iraq when they are our people?

Since 2003, over 400,000 people have been killed in Darfur and over two million people are homeless. And, we do nothing. The violence is spreading to Chad and the Central African Republic. We watch and do nothing; sometimes we don't even watch. We ignore the situation.

At the end of 2005, over 24.5 million people were living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. Two million people died of AIDS that year leaving over 12 million children as orphans.

In research on trafficking of Togolese girls into domestic and market work, Human Rights Watch interviewed forty-one girls trafficked when they were between the ages of three and seventeen. Thirteen had been trafficked internally, while the rest were trafficked across borders to Benin, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, and Niger. All of the girls Human Rights Watch interviewed were from poor agricultural backgrounds with little or no formal schooling whose parents handed them over to known or unknown intermediaries, sometimes for a price, with the understanding they would be receiving formal education, professional training or paid work. Instead, the girls’ descriptions of being recruited, transported, received and exploited revealed a pattern of abuse resembling child slavery. Almost none received any remuneration for her work.


Human Rights Watch: http://hrw.org/

Monday, April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech, In Our Prayers

The true way to mourn the dead is
to take care of the living who belong to them.
-- Edmund Burke









Saturday, April 14, 2007

Don't Ya Wish Your Boyfriend Was Hot Like Me?


To compliment Rachel's photo of her and Arabella having a small snack...

Friday, April 13, 2007

Brrr

Hard to believe it is April, the middle of April, and we are still talking about snowstorms! Windchills are low here in PA and Sunday, we are expecting a Nor'eastern. My town will probably only get extremely heavy rains, but some places could get some serious snow.

I commute 80 miles each way to work and Thursday's commute was extremely rough. Heavy rain made it very hard to see. At one point, I was driving under a bridge and so much water was pouring off the bridge, I could not see anything for about 5 seconds. Was driving next to a tractor trailer so it was a little nerve-wracking for my passengers. I'm in a carpool so we share the driving.

I cut the grass last weekend and this weekend, I wanted to work on my flowerbeds. Don't think that will be happening!

Some concerts to look forward to in July - Ian McLagan will be playing in NYC at BB Kings on July 6. If you haven't seen Ian and the Bump Band, you have to go! And, then July 7, the LiveEarth concert will be held in NJ. I've already told ColleenM to expect a houseguest that weekend!

Are you totally sick of the Imus story yet? I think what he said was horrible, but I don't think he should have been fired over it. I really don't care for Sharpton and find it very hypocritical that he would call for anyone's firing based on a negative slur when he has repeatedly slandered numerous people and never apologised for his words. On the news today, the minister for the team's coach compared the Rutgers basketball team to the Duke lacrosse players saying that the basketball team had been victims and were judged negatively while the lacrosse players also victims were held up as noble and honorable. How can you compare a group of talented, intelligent and gifted young women who were referenced in a passing comment (sexist and racist, as it definitely was) by a shock jock to innocent people who were convicted in the press, spent thousands of dollars in legal fees, had to leave school for a year, and had their faces and names splashed over every local and national news station for months? If those Duke students had not been able to afford the best legal defense, they would most likely have been convicted. I'm convinced that there are many innocent people in our jails.

Hopefully this weekend will be last touch of winter! I'm ready for Spring.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Changing Times

Good Friday used to be my most favorite church service of the year. At least at the church I've been attending for the last 15 years. (I can't believe I've been there for 15 years now, actually.) The youth of the church do a Tenebrae service where they "re-enact" the crucifixion. It was the most moving service of the year for me and sometimes I would even cry by the end of the service.

I say, past tense, because a few years ago, in the absence of having a Youth Director, I was asked to help the Youth do the Tenebrae service, the Easter Sunrise service and a third service. Ever since I began leading the youth with the Tenebrae service, the service itself has lost its meaning to me. Now, I worry about the right kid doing the right thing at the right time. I worry about the candles being in the right position, the script being ready for everyone, the cloths and the cross being found and made available, and I worry about how the slinky Jesus looks. Yes, I said, slinky Jesus. Sometime, years ago, decades ago, someone made a man-like figure out of wire that we use as our Jesus that we put on the cross as part of the service. I think they coiled wire around an actual person and the slinky Jesus used to look somewhat realistic. But, this year, he's looking a little compressed. I think we're going to have to explore different options next year.

We have new Youth Directors for our church now but since they are new, they have been asking me a lot of questions and asking me to help out at these services. Last night, I went to church at 4 so I could help the youth rehearse and walk through the service with them and the directors. Actually, they didn't need me. The kids know what needs to be done better than me since it is their service and they've done it for years. Of course, they did a great job. But again, the service did not hit me emotionally as it did before I got involved. I wonder if it ever will again.

I should say that our new Youth Directors, a husband and wife team, are awesome people. They are doing a great job with our youth and hopefully, they will be able to regenerate what used to be a very active and large youth program. The wife is going to seminary school and asked me last night to be on her seminarian-in-care committee which means I have to help her evaluate her sermons and other interactions with the congregation.

Saturday morning, my son, his friend and I went to our monthly homeless breakfast. Our church serves breakfast the first Sat of the month. This month, there were so many volunteers, I ended up mostly socializing before leaving.

After we left the breakfast, we went to the Verizon store where I bought my 11-year old son his first cell phone. I never expected to get either of my children a phone that early. But, my son is not very good at letting me know where he is. He has lots of friends in the neighborhood and they are very fluid about what house they are at. They will start out at one friend's house and move on to another's, but forget to call home to say where they will be. So because he is irresponsible rather than responsible, I've bought him a cell phone so I can call him and find out where he is. I put the chaperone functionality on it as well so I can track him if need be. Not because I think he will wander far on his own, but in today's world, it seemed reasonable in case he would be abducted or some other natural disaster would occur. My 17-year old daughter has a cell phone and I've told her I want her to keep it with her at school. We've had school shootings locally and her school has had four bomb threats in the last few weeks. The bomb threats are hoaxes because the kids have learned that they can get out of school if they write a note on the bathroom wall, but we never know these days what can happen. If school would be evacuated due to a tornado or storm, or a real bomb threat, whatever, I would like to be able to reach her or have her reach me.

I hope everyone has a blessed Easter season, regardless of their religious affiliation. Spring is a time of rebirth and regeneration for all of us. I think our Sunrise service tomorrow will have to be held inside since as I look out the window, it is snowing again here in PA. Hard to believe it is April, my grass needs mowing badly, and it is snowing....

Monday, April 02, 2007

My Son Hates Me

My son is mad at me because I have to work tomorrow. I work away from home four days a week, but generally his sister is here when he first gets up. I leave for work very early and she won't be home tomorrow to wake him up later. So, it's my fault. I'm a horrible mother and he hates me. But tomorrow, he'll love me again.

===========================================================
According to this internet quiz, I'm actually a pretty cool mom.

You Will Be a Cool Parent

You seem to naturally know a lot about parenting, and you know what kids need.
You can tell when it's time to let kids off the hook, and when it's time to lay down the law.
While your parenting is modern and hip, it's not over the top.
You know that there's nothing cool about a parent who acts like a teenager... or a drill sergeant!

Saturday, March 31, 2007

A New Addition to my List of Music Acts, Amanda Kaletsky

Went to see Grey Eye Glances at Chaplin's: The Music Cafe, a pretty cool club in the booming metropolis of Spring City (actually a very quaint small town) outside of Philadelphia. They, as usual, were awesome. I haven't seen them for about two years and they've made changes to their older songs, adding a lot of depth to them musically. Could just be an incorrect memory of my part - haven't seen them in a while and have just been listening to the CDs - music live is always so much different than the recorded version. The crowd and your current emotions always change the experience dramatically.

I found the Grey Eye Glances because they were the warm-up band for a nationally-known group. At that concert, I hated the headliner and loved the three warm-up bands they had. I fell in love instantly with GEG's sound and have followed them ever since. They've been together since 1991 and I can't believe they haven't made it further than they have, but again, I'm probably happy in a selfish way, because I prefer going to these smaller venues to see music. Chaplin's seats about 80 people, serves sandwiches and salads and is a BYOB place. So last night, my date and I took a bottle of wine and headed off to Chaplin's. It's about an hour ride from my house. He had never heard GEG before so we played their CDs on the way up and he liked their music as well.

We found a seat on the balcony and ordered sandwiches. The first singer, Skip Denenberg, was good. He plays locally and from what he said, he does a lot with the Philadelphia Phillies musically. But, the second act, Amanda Kaletsky, was extremely good. A recent college grad from the University of DE, Amanda started playing violin at age 4 and then added piano and guitar. She's studied voice since 8th grade and began songwriting in high school. She's only 23 and I think if she continues, she will make a name for herself. Go to her website and take a listen to her music. My date bought me one of her EPs and she autographed it for me. He got one too.

I love her songs December and Never Enough. I think she said Never Enough was one of her first songs and that she wrote it in high school.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Lindsey Buckingham



I hadn't heard Lindsey Buckingham solo before and was blown away by his performance. The show was to start at 8:00 and it took us about an hour longer to get to South Street than I expected. An accident on the PA turnpike loaded more traffic on the Schuylkill (also known as the SureKill) so we crept along in bumper to bumper traffic.

We didn't get to the Theater of Living Arts (TLA) until 7:50 but the show didn't start until 8:30. So we didn't miss anything, but we also didn't get dinner before the show. The theater was small but very nice. It had several levels with some seats being stackable chairs and others more like bar stools. Most seats had a good view of the stage and the acoustics were good. There were some rowdy fans in the audience but rowdy because they were such fans of Lindsey.

I noticed one woman in the third row who stood for most of the show. She clasped her hands as if in prayer in front of her face, swayed to the music and looked as if she was in the presence of almighty God and in awe of his grace and power. Another man in the fifth row continually thrust his arms up in the air to the beat of the music. By the end of the show, many were crowded down by the front of the stage. The bouncers tried to stop it for a while, but eventually gave up.

Lindsey started the show with two solos. His voice was strong - never cracked once, nor did I hear him hit a wrong note. I've heard that he is 57 but he didn't appear to be older than 35. After two songs, he was joined by his band, friends that he's known for over 15 years. Lindsey's guitar playing was extremely good and got more flamboyant and exuberant as the night went on. I have never ever seen anyone slap a guitar before. There were times that Lindsey was slapping his guitar, like a girl fight, but he was still making music.

Lindsey is releasing a new album, pictured above. It is his first album in, I think, 17 years. If you get the chance to listen to it or to see him in person, I would highly recommend it!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Another Beautiful Day

Today is absolutely gorgeous outside. Blue skies, a few white puffy clouds and temps in the 70's. I'm working from home today and I keep taking my papers and planning materials out to the deck, occasionally popping inside to check my emails. This is the way to work!!

Tonight, I'm heading into Philadelphia to see the Lindsey Buckingham concert. Have never heard him solo, only with Fleetwood Mac. Friday, I'm heading back to the Philadelphia area to see one of my favorite "local" bands, Grey Eye Glances. I am looking forward to both concerts. Have to find something to fill my time now that Pete and Rachel are heading back to Europe.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Sun Has Finally Come Out

It's a beautiful day outside for a change. Yesterday was cool, overcast and intermittently rainy. Today is sunny, blue skies and very warm. Just came back from a brisk hour-long walk. My daughter is out playing soccer at a tournament and my son is out at the park with his girlfriend and other friends. Sitting here, I can hear the neighborhood children out playing and birds chirping.

Tuesday, I had to spend the day at SAP Headquarters in Newtown Square. With ok traffic, it is about an hour and a half from me. Unfortunately, there is seldom ok traffic in the morning - it is usually bumper to bumper for a fair number of miles adding on about a half hour. That day I left early and was making good time.

I wanted to stop at a convenience store and grab a soda, but kept passing stores instead of stopping. A few times I thought about turning around since most of the stores available to me were on the left hand side of the road. But I kept going and telling myself I would stop at the next one. This repeated several times, and then I stopped at a small store about 8 miles outside of Newtown Square. I thought to myself, why bother stopping now? They'll have coffee and drinks at the meeting. But I pulled into the parking lot and parked. As I got out of my car, a young man came up to me and said, "I've never done this before and I'm really embarassed, but could I ask you for $2 for gas so I can get to Newtown Square where I live? If you don't believe I need it for gas, you could go into the store with me and watch me pay for it or you could pay the store yourself." He looked like he was about 19.

I gave him the money and he thanked me. I followed him into the store and went to the cooler to get a soda. He met a guy he apparently hadn't seen for a few years at the counter. He told the guy that he was working at UPS and had just gotten his first paycheck that day, said he was living with his mom and dad since he came back from Iraq. While talking to his friend, he paid for his gas, thanked me again and went outside. When I heard he just came back from Iraq, I wanted to offer to fill his tank, but I didn't. He didn't mention to his friend that he had to bum money off me and I didn't want to embarass him. Guess I could have offered to do it and say it was a thank-you for being in Iraq but didn't think fast enough on my feet. When I got outside, he was gone.

Thursday night, I had a date after work. He was supposed to pick me up at 7:30 which would give me just enough time to get home, feed the kids and get ready. When I got to my car at the carpool dropoff point, I saw my tire was low. I headed back down the road to a Turkey Hill to put air in it. I tried putting air in it, but it seemed as if it was getting flatter rather than filling up. In principle, I know how to change a tire, but I've never done it in real life. So, since it was raining, I was dressed up, and I've paid for AAA for four years and never used it, I decided it was time to place that call. I called AAA and arranged for someone to come out to change my tire. I called my date and told him I would be late. Sweet guy that he is, he offered to come change it for me. It would have taken him a half hour to get to me so I just told him AAA was on their way. The tow truck driver came out within 45 minutes and changed my tire in less than five minutes. I had a nail in my tire. While he was there, a woman came up to me and asked if he was AAA. She said that her car broke down there earlier today but AAA refused to send someone out because she didn't know her exact location. That was a little surprising to me since we were at an intersection and it was easy to see the road signs. She had left her car there and gone home, coming back that night to call AAA a second time. Wonderfully for her, he was already there helping me and could tow her car for her.

I had a debate with someone a few weeks ago about my belief that things happen for a reason. He disagreed with me saying that life was chance or self-determination, that things didn't happen for a reason. That just because you think it was better that you went down one path instead of another, you really don't know because you didn't take that other path.

I could have very easily driven home on the low tire - I'd been putting air in it for a week and probably shouldn't have been driving on it as long as I did. It was unusual that I went to that side of the car to put my bags into the car - I usually go in the driver's side. My deciding to take care of the tire situation that day helped that woman out in taking care of her own car situation. When meeting that soldier who needed help, I passed many stores on my way and for one reason or another didn't stop until that particular store. Would he have asked his friend for money? I'm not sure - he didn't ask him for money to repay me - I think he was too embarassed.

I'm glad he came back home from Iraq apparently whole, at least physically.